Not so long ago, Latin America was riding a big red wave of leftist triumphalism — from Cuba to Venezuela to Ecuador to Brazil to Nicaragua … But leftism in Latin America seems to have fallen on hard times recently:
Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez is dead, and his bumbling successor, Nicolás Maduro, presiding over a disintegrating country. Brazil’s once wildly popular leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is in prison. In Cuba, the Castro era is over, at least in terms of sanguineous inheritance… In Argentina, as well, where the husband-and-wife team of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner played at leftist politics for over a decade, a right-of-center capitalist, Mauricio Macri, is now in charge. And in Ecuador, the Chávez protégé Rafael Correa, an outspoken anti-American, has been replaced by his less confrontational former Vice-President, Lenín Moreno, who appears to have seen the writing on the wall and is reëstablishing good relations with the United States. __ NewYorker
In Nicaragua, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega still rules over the peons, but his throne is feeling a lot less comfortable these days:
[Daniel] Ortega and his wife have steadily consolidated their power, eliminating their opponents through a canny combination of economic co-option and, when necessary, outright repression… The unrest of the past week appears to have inched Ortega close to the exit door. This is an outcome that he and Murillo did not expect, and they may not yet believe it to be a real possibility. In their televised appearances over the past week, Ortega and Murillo have been shown in safe settings in the Presidential complex, surrounded by a handful of loyal ministers and generals. They have worn the mild and uncomprehending expressions of people who seem genuinely unaware of the reality outside their privileged circle of influence. They have reminded me of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu, who believed themselves to be the anointed custodians of the destiny of the Romanian people until that fateful evening in December, 1989, when the cheers of a crowd turned to boos, and would not stop. The look of incomprehension, and then terrified awareness, on the Ceaușescus’ faces as the booing grew more audible was the moment at which their dictatorship ended. Within a few days of that speech, the Ceașescus were shot to death by a hastily convened firing squad. As in so many violent overthrows in history, the men who executed them had been regime loyalists—outwardly, at least. __ Nicaragua on the Brink
Ortega’s Nicaragua is running out of “other people’s money,” as every socialist workers’ paradise is wont to do sooner or later. In previous times, he could turn to friends in other leftist nations of Latin America for assistance. As those Latin-lefty dominoes teeter and fall, Ortega is on his own — unless he can beg some loans from the communist party of China.
More background on Nicaragua’s current instability:
The present convulsion began earlier this month, after President Daniel Ortega proposed a change to the country’s social-security provisions that would have forced taxpayers to pay more for the program while simultaneously cutting payouts to beneficiaries. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries of Latin America, and public reaction to this change was furious and swift, with demonstrators taking to the streets to protest. The government’s ensuing response was as ill-considered as it was cruel. Police around the country fired live ammunition to break up the protests; as many as sixty people are believed to have died in the chaos that followed, including Ángel Gahona, a young reporter who was shot in the head while conducting a Facebook Live report in the streets of the Caribbean coastal town of Bluefields.
As the civilian deaths mounted, Rosario Murillo—Ortega’s wife, Vice-President, and spokesperson—issued a stream of belittling comments, calling the protesters “bloodsuckers,” “criminals,” and “vampires.” This only raised the ire of many thousands of ordinary Nicaraguans, and, just as happened in the late nineteen-seventies, when the dictator Somoza tried to stamp out dissent with harsh measures, the sentiments on the street have only hardened. __ New Yorker
All of this is particularly bad news for Bernie Sanders, as he now has fewer vacation spots in Latin America where he can feel truly safe and at home. Regardless, most rational observers can readily comprehend that when socialists rule, hellholes tend to follow — as soon as the unfortunate places run out of “other people’s money.”
The downfall of socialist utopias begins the moment they are installed into power. Trump did not start these lefty paradises on their downward paths, but he will be glad to help expose them to the world for the bloody failures they are. As Mexico flirts with electing a smirking, lying leftist of its own, the amigos to the south of the US border need to understand that Trump plays a – deeper game than his tweets and outburts reveal. Mexico is relatively wealthy — as was Venezuela before Chavez. If Mexicans want to elect a Chavez of their own, perhaps they will deserve to become another Venezuela. But a Mexican Venezuela must also deal with the shadow government of drug lords who control large swathes of the country, and pull the strings on many of Mexico’s judges, politicians, police, and federales. It will not be a pretty fall if the people of Mexico decide to pursue the well-trodden downward path of leftist utopias.
And somewhere, in a dark room, Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit sits sucking down tumblers of Canadian Club and dreaming of the American Venezuela that might have been. __ Winning and Losing